By Murlidhar Rao
“Mother when will Daddy come?” little Trisha asked her mother Seema. “Next month we are having school day. All the parents are coming. Daddy did not come last year also. He had promised that he will definitely come this year. Do you know I am participating in two dances this time? If daddy does not come I will not dance.” Trisha was just six year old smart and talkative girl. Her friends called her chatter box. A very popular girl in the school, she was good in everything, studies, sports, singing, dancing, public speaking, dramas whatever she did, she did with interest and perfection. She was very popular among her friends. Her teachers loved her. Her mother was proud of her.
Seema was a house wife, a house maker as they call now a day, though the duties remain the same. She was proud to have married a military officer ten years back. She had two children Karan, a ten year old boy and Trisha just six years old. Karan was a matured and responsible young man who took care of his sister and even her mother in absence of his father. Whenever his father came home on vacation, he told them lot of stories about his tough life at border. He told them about the extreme heat and cold conditions they are facing at the border. He told them how sometime soldiers across the border, who are generally very friendly start firing and bullets fly across the border. He told them how once he had rescued his officer who was badly injured in cross border firing. He also told him how they ambushed a group of militants, who were trying to enter our country and killed them. Karan was proud to be son of a military officer who was protecting the nation. But little girl Trisha did not understand all this, she did not understand why people fight and kill each other. She loved her father and wanted him to be always with her.
“Mom, I will be late today. We have dance practice.” Trisha told her mother climbing the school bus steps. “Good morning Trisha” all her friends welcomed her. They loved her and desired for her friendship. After the dance practice, Monica said admiring her, Trisha you dance so well, this time will your parents come to school day to see your dance?” Trisha was happy to hear Monica praise her. Monica was her best friend and also best critic. “My mom and brother will surely come but I don’t know about my Dad. He is at border, protecting the country you know? He can’t just leave the borders unprotected and come.” She repeated what her brother Karan had told her. “I am proud of my father,” she added further. Though Trisha was proud that she was a daughter of a military officer, somewhere deep inside her heart she had a strong desire that her father also comes with her mother to school functions and see her dance like all other parents.
Trisha reached home little late that evening after dance practice. Her friend Monica’s father dropped her home. After dinner Trisha slept beside her mother. “Mother! You know Monica my best friend, she told me that I dance very well,” Trisha told her mother whispering in her ears. “Yes dear, I know you dance very well. We are all very eager to see your dance on your school day.” Her mother replied. “Monica wanted to know will Papa also come to our school day?” she asked. Her mother replied after a pause, “yes he has promised but you know he is in military he can’t…” “I know he is in military, I am hearing the same story from last two years.” Trisha suddenly interrupted not allowing her mother to complete her sentence. She was fed up of hearing the same answer again and again. She loved her father and wanted him to be with them. She has been seeing from young age that fathers of all her friends come to school on school days, parents meeting, many of them come every day to pick up and drop the children to school. But her father never came to school just because he was in military. Unable to get answer to her questions she asked her mother,” mother why did father join military, why did he not become an officer in bank or government like her friend’s fathers?” Surprised by the unexpected question her Seema did not know what to answer. After a pause replied, “your father joined army because he loved his mother land and you should be proud of him.” “Mom I am proud of my father, but you know my friend Anu, her father is an officer in Government department, she daily comes in a big Govt. car with her father to school. Our head madam also respects him so much and tells the class teacher to take special care of Anu as her her father is a big officer. Mom you know Laxmi my senior, her father, they say is not even 10th standard pass but she also comes in bigger Govt. car. He wears a white Dhoti and a cap on his head, does not know how to talk in English but always insists that her daughter should talk in English. Every week he comes to school to meet the principal. Mummy all these fellows why did they not join army? Don’t they love their country?” Seema was silent unable to answer her daughter. She closed her eyes pretending to be sleeping. Little Trisha also slept unable to understand why her father joined army and kept thinking about it. She sometimes thought that her father should also have been like her friends fathers, a government servant, bank employee or some college professor. How nice it is to spend every day evening with her father. She saw girls of age playing in park with their parents. She missed her Papa and sometimes cursed him for not being with them.
One day they were waiting for school bus near their house. They were talking casually. Her mother said, “Your father is a brave man. He had a brilliant academic record. His parents wanted him to be an IAS officer but he insisted and joined army. He loved his mother land so much that against the wish of his parents he joined army, otherwise he would have been an officer. Trisha was listening to her mother with mixed feelings. She admired his father at the same time she also imagined had she been daughter of an officer what a life she would have enjoyed. She remembered once a District collector was invited to her school as a chief guest. How excited her principal and other teachers were to receive him. Somewhere deep inside her heart she felt that her father deprived them of many things by joining army. She missed her father very much. She knew how her mother had to struggle to do all the house hold work and also outside works. She wondered if her father has sacrificed all this for the sake of his country why he is not respected in the society like other officers. Why mom has to struggle for everything? Why they don’t have servants at home? Why not a driver for their car? Little Trisha was caught in the web of exclamatory marks. Suddenly her mother said, “Trisha bus is coming, let us go.”
Days passed by. Trisha was busy in her dance preparations. The school day was coming closer. Dance teacher had given full responsibility to Trisha to guide her group. She had full confidence in her and said, “You girls are doing very good, concentrate on the rhythm and just follow Trisha.” All were waiting for the school day which was just few weeks ahead. Trisha was hopeful that her father will surely come this time. He has promised me, she told her mother. She asked her brother, “bhaya ! Father will come no? Her brother was her friend, philosopher and guide. She could always rely on him. He was more practical and realistic. Karan replied after a deep thought, “Yes he may come this time. Situation is also calm now days at the border.” Trisha was happy she was sure that her father will come. She devoted herself in perfecting her dance so that she can give her best performance.
The school day was just a week ahead. Trisha was getting impatient. She repeatedly asked her mother about her father’s visit. Her mother had no definite reply. She just said he will come. She could feel her mother was tense and worried. Just a few days before the D Day, Trisha saw her brother sitting in his room watching news on his lap top. She went to him and asked, “Bhaya, just three days are left to my school day. Are sure Dad will come?” Her brother was serious. Trisha, did you not hear the news? Even after assuring peace during recent talks Pakistani troops have again started cross border firing. I am not sure father will get leave to come. Trisha’s little heart was broken. She did not want to believe her brother. She said, “Father has promised me that he will come. I am sure he is going to come.” She left the room with moist eyes. She had lost interest in her dance practice. Her teacher asked her why she is lost in thoughts. Trisha could not reply but her lovely eyes turned moist.
After a couple of days Trisha and Karan were at school. Seema was alone at home; suddenly the telephone bell started ringing. The sharp sound of the bell disturbed her. She was always afraid to lift the phone. An unknown fear gripped her. Slowly she went near the phone and with great hesitation lifted the phone. “am I speaking to Mrs Seema Rawat?” a strong clear voice enquired. “Yes” Seema replied in a feeble voice. “Madam I am speaking from ministry of defense, Just now we have received a message from Rajasthan boarder that your husband commander Vishwajeet Rawat fought gallantly with the militants and foiled their attempts to cross the border. In the firing he was seriously injured. Brave Javans of his regiment brought him to military hospital. But in spite of our best efforts we could not save him. Madam we are proud of your husband” he was talking praising her husband but Seema had collapsed. She did not hear a thing. Suddenly there was total darkness. She was lying on the ground unconscious. The defense officer was shouting hello! Hello! From the other end then disconnected the line.
Seema was lying unconscious for a long time after 3/4 hours she slowly got up. She did not realize what happened to her, was it a dream? She wondered. She looked around, the telephone receiver hanging from the cord told her it was not a dream it was a reality. She did not know what to do. Tears have dried in her eyes. Being wife of a military officer she was prepared for all this. Her husband has also told her to be ready. Anything may happen any time he usually said. She was not worried about herself but her children, especially Trisha, who was always worried about her father. She asked too many questions which disturbed her. She decided not to tell her children anything.
Trisha came from school in the evening and asked her mother, “Mom did you get any phone call from father, is he coming?” Seema replied her with a blank face,” yes I had received a phone call. Your father is coming home shortly and never go back.” She could not control her tears and started washing her face to hide the tears. Karan did not ask her anything may be he had heard some news. He just went inside the house avoiding her mother’s glance.
It was the day Trisha was waiting from such a long time. Today was her school day. She was getting ready to go to her school. She was excited; her mother had told her that her father will be coming. She was sure her father will be thrilled to see her dance. Impatiently she was waiting for the calling bell to ring. At last the bell rang, little Trisha ran and opened the door. His father was not there, she was surprised to see two officers standing there in full uniform. Behind them were four army men carrying a box which they unloaded in front of her house. Her mother, brother too came out, the military officers were explaining something to her mother. Little Trisha understood in a moment. She turned back and said “At last my father have come last to stay with us, I love you father I am proud of you. Today I will dance in school day. I know you will be watching me and bless me.”
About the Author : Murlidhar Rao is a retired technical director of the Karnataka Power Corporation, Bangalore. An electrical engineer by training Mr. Rao has an interest in writing, he has written two books titled Oh God! why do we need you and Journey. His book Oh God! why do we need you was a bestseller, he also regularly trains people on meditation.